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Compromise in the works

Kofler seeking out-of-court settlement

BERLIN — The chief of German paybox Premier is ready to compromise with its insolvent former sister division Kirch Media over a disputed E36 million ($42 million) loan.

The insolvency administrators claim Kirch Media lent Georg Kofler and his former business partner Thomas Kirch, son of the TV group’s former owner, money to launch Hot Networks, a joint venture with Barry Diller’s Home Shopping Network, in 2000.

For a year, Kofler has maintained that the loan was given to the younger Kirch and that he alone was liable.

Facing the possibility of a lengthy and costly legal dispute with his former partner, however, Kofler is seeking an out-of-court settlement.

“We are trying to reach a reasonable compromise before Christmas,” Kofler said.

The parties are reportedly looking at a settlement of between $18 million and $24 million.

In the wake of Kirch Media’s insolvency in April 2002, Kofler and Kirch sold their 53% stake in Hot Networks (now known as Home Shopping Europe) to Home Shopping Network, which already owned 47%.

In related news, Joachim Theye, a lawyer and close associate of Leo Kirch, has denied allegations of tax fraud and breaches of trust linked to the Kirch Media insolvency.

Theye is one of several former Kirch execs and consultants, including Thomas Kirch and former Kirch Group deputy CEO Dieter Hahn, under investigation by authorities in relation to the Kirch Media insolvency. Theye, a former Kirch Group attorney and one-time chairman of the board at former Kirch broadcaster Sat 1, reportedly received $5.8 million from 1999-2001 and is suspected of having illegally transferred part of his fees back to Kirch.

Theye has acknowledged that he received “several million” from Kirch Media in consultancy and legal fees but denies doing anything illegal.

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